My (much) older bother was career military. Once while on base with him, he introduced me to one of the Generals. This old guy, who had been thru Korea, Vietnam and a bunch of minor skirmishes along the way, was more than willing to show me the pictures on his wall and tell me stories of his past exploits. I noticed he had a chess set in his office so I asked where it came from (Korea) and if he played much. I was all too willing to tell him that I was in my school chess club and loved to play. He offered to play and I jumped at the challenge, sure I was going to teach the old geezer a thing or two.
My bother wandered off to talk to some other people and returned maybe 15 minutes later. I had gotten cocky and brought my Queen out too early to predictable results. My brother reentered the room, took one look at the board and said the words that are still seared into my brain 25 years+ later… “Little brother, never play chess with a two star.”
I was reminded of that bit of childhood humiliation when I read the news that General Petraeus is going to recommend troop reductions by March. He just beat Congress before he walked in the room.
It’s obvious to everyone the surge can’t last forever. We had 130,000 troops before the surge started and we’re presently at 160,000. It can’t last much past April without extending the tours of the guys there which is a political nightmare. So we have to reduce troops by March.
But by recommending that to Congress and throwing them the bone that some can start rotating home by Christmas, he gets the time he needs while giving up “nothing.” The “troop reduction” will only get troops back to previous levels.
Petraeus is going to walk into Congress, rattle off a list of talking points about how well our troops are doing and then tell Congress that as a result we can start bringing people home (winners) before Christmas. Make no mistake this isn’t what the Democrats wanted 60 days ago, but they will have no choice but to take it.
To the American public, it will seem like a fair and reasonable plan that the Democrats will object to at their own risk.
The “lose at all costs” wing of the Democrat party (that would be most of them) will have to suck it up and give the troops the time they need to finish the job.
I believe the bellwether person to watch is Hillary. Reid and Pelosi have already marginalized themselves… especially Reid. If Petraeus offered them a pony they would whine about something. If Hillary feels she is forced to support the plan, the game is over.
Just a few weeks ago, the Democrats envisioned Petraeus’s testimony as a big tactical win over the Republicans. Now they’re learning that you don’t play chess with a four star.
Petraeus will get the time he needs. All that will be left is for him to continue the gains he’s made so far in the field.
Lorie adds: Stop the ACLU has a roundup of blog response to this report.